3 Indispensable Traits of a Successful Remote Sales Rep

Miss just one of these attributes and you could be off to a rocky start in a new territory.

Long distance relationships make for great love stories. They make for complicated jobs for sales leaders who must manage them from afar. Maybe not so much with your remote sales rep.

The type of independent responsibility this type of role implies doesn’t suit everyone. To get the most from this position, hire someone with the right combination of three elements:

1. Autonomous Motivation
When is comes to motivation, look for a remote sales rep with a strong desire for autonomy and control. This may seem obvious, but correctly identifying these traits requires special attention.

Most salespeople you consider for the role will claim to prefer autonomy, when what they really mean is that they don’t want you to micromanage them. You need more than someone who doesn’t want you constantly looking over their shoulder; you need someone capable of self-leadership.

If you have somebody who is willing (or even eager) to defer all the time, constantly calling with questions, getting permission, or posing the “what should I do now” question from six states away, neither one of you will be happy. You can meet with a rookie in your office on a daily basis for that kind of development, but for this role you need a confident, seasoned, autonomous professional.

2. Practical Thinking Patterns
Thinking patterns (cognition) is the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge, comprehension and making judgments. So, from a cognitive perspective, your remote sales rep needs to possess the capacity to make decisions everyday that drive sales goal achievement without your assistance. Think entrepreneur.

Of course, product knowledge, industry savvy and remote sales experience are important factors when making this hire. However, they really need strong self-starting, self-management and problem-solving abilities in higher levels than traditional “in-house’ sales reps. Distance creates complexity and that requires a salesperson with strong practical thinking skills.

3. Flexible Behavior Style
Behavior style is the manner with which a person engages people and processes. Look for a remote sales rep whose personality style is not overly routine-oriented. Unless the position is designed for account management and not weighted towards new business development, the activities that fill your rep’s time will vary from day-to-day and week-to-week.

A salesperson who enjoys performing the same activities, in the same amounts, at the same time each day, can easily become overwhelmed by the variety of tasks and demands they encounter in a remote location when attempting to acquire new customers.

The sales rep you put in a remote location may be the primary—and in many cases, the only—company representative your customers ever meet. Be sure to choose the person who will consistently represent your company well and reinforces your organizations reputation.

An important part of that decision will be taking the time to create strong alignment between the role and the motivational, cognitive, and behavioral attributes of your salesperson.